The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday voted to rename the stretch of road in front of the Chinese Embassy “Liu Xiaobo Plaza,” a symbolic nod to the Nobel Prize-winning dissident and a slap at the human rights record of officials in Beijing.
The white-stone compound currently sits at 3505 International Place NW, not far from the Panda House at the National Zoo.
But the amendment to the annual State Department spending bill, offered by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), instructs Secretary of State John Kerry to rename the street and declares: “For the purposes of United States Postal code, hereafter the proper address of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Washington, District of Columbia, shall be No. 1 Liu Xiaobo Plaza.”
Wolf and other congressional representatives had called on the District government to make the change, but then figured out that the land was owned by the federal government and now are moving ahead on their own.
D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) introduced a resolution of support, noting a precedent in the 1980s, when “the land occupied by the Soviet Embassy on 16th Street N.W.” was renamed 1 Andrei Sakharov Plaza.
Making a similar statement for the imprisoned Chinese dissident “would send a clear and powerful message that the United States remains vigilant and resolute in its commitment to safeguard human rights around the globe, particularly at a time when the world community remembers the events of Tiananmen Square 25 years ago this month,” when the Chinese army crushed protests in Beijing, killing hundreds, perhaps thousands.
Chinese officials have voiced displeasure at the effort.
“We believe that the U.S. people will not like to see a U.S. street be named after a criminal,” an embassy spokesman said.